how to stop overthinking

Are you overthinking everything? Here’s how you can stop

Overthinking fills your mind with doubts, non-existent obstacles, negativity, and deteriorates the happiness in your life.
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Do you often revisit your conversations with people and think about the things you wish you had or hadn’t said? Do you often ask yourself ‘What if…’? Do you worry about the things you have no control over? Do you tend to dwell on the problem instead of looking for a solution? If your answer to one or all of the above is yes, then you might be an overthinker.

Overthinking is a negative habit that has the potential to cause extreme problems. Whether it is situations or opinions, thinking too much can cloud your judgment and prevent you from taking action. It fills your mind with doubts, non-existent obstacles, negativity, and deteriorates the happiness in your life.

What’s more, overthinking can even cause your mental health to decline. When you are fixated on a past event or worry about the future, your thought patterns become destructive, which can take a toll on both your mental and physical health. You can follow these steps to stop the vicious cycle of overthinking and take back control of your life.

Get rid of the all-or-nothing mindset

People with an all-or-nothing mindset believe there is only one solution to a problem, and if you don’t get it right then you are a failure. Or that you must know everything, anticipate every possible scenario, and have a detailed plan in place before you make your move. But preparing for every possible outcome is extremely hard if not impossible. It does nothing but slows you down. To curb this tendency, ask yourself: ‘What is one thing I could do today that would bring me closer to my goal?’, ‘Which decision will have a bigger impact on my goals?’ or ‘What should be my next big step?’ By doing so, you will be able to move forward instead of wasting your time, ruminating about the future.

Notice when you are stuck in your head

A simple way to stop overthinking is to acknowledge the problem. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. Only when you become aware of the issue, you will be able to take action to change your thought process and become more productive. Take a break the next time you notice you are stuck in your head and overthinking about something. This simple pause and the act of acknowledgement can help you see the reality of the situation and make you will feel less scared and overwhelmed.

Change your approach to decision-making

If you catch yourself overthinking every now and then, try to find the reason behind it. Most of the time, you overthink due to the fear of making the wrong decisions. It could be related to your work or your life. You fear that your decisions may lead to failure, embarrassment, or other negative outcomes that can throw you in the rabbit hole of overthinking.

However, overthinking does not help you make the right decisions. Rather, it places you in a state of stagnation, which fuels the negative outcome you may be fearing. To overcome these fears, you need to view these situations as opportunities for learning, not as disasters where all will be lost if you don’t get everything right. If you end up making the right decision, it will prove to be a positive thing to look back on. But if you make a wrong decision, try to come with a solution and assess how you can get a favourable outcome in the future.

Set time limits for making decisions

Giving yourself endless time to get things done or make the right decisions provides easy access to overthinking. You may start thinking about the possibilities or things you have left out. To avoid doing this, you can set time limits for making a certain decision. But when you are setting limits for your decisions, they must correspond accordingly to the decisions you have made. Once you have reached your deadline, stop analysing the situation any further. Make your final decision and move forward with what you have ultimately decided. Hold yourself accountable for how long you spend ruminating during one sitting.

Consider the worst-case scenario

When you think too much about a situation, you create imaginary scenarios that are unlikely to play out in real life. If you do not take a closer look at them, it may keep you from trying new things. So, the next time you catch yourself overthinking a situation, ask yourself, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen. For example, you have an interview coming up and you are stressed about it. When you feel that way, ask yourself that question. If one job opportunity doesn’t work out, you can still attempt several others. This approach can help you realise that the worst situation usually isn’t as scary as you made it out to be, and you’ll stop overthinking.

Do something to distract yourself

If you can’t stop mulling over your presentation or replaying a conversation you had with your friend, it means that you are overthinking. Research shows that ruminating, which is obsessive overthinking, makes it harder to solve problems and has been linked to mental issues such as depression and anxiety. So, how do you get rid of this destructive habit? An easy solution would be to distract yourself. Channel your energy into a different activity, something that can steer you away from the situation and help you clear your head. Activities like drawing, taking a brief walk, or trying your hand at an instrument can do the trick.

Let go of the past

Overthinkers often ruminate about the past. When they do, they use their energy, thinking if they could have done something differently. But worrying about such scenarios leads to overthinking and removes your focus from the present moment. While the past cannot be changed, you can learn from the experience and use those lessons to do better in your future endeavours. When you accept the past for what it was, you free your mind from the burdens, mistakes, or grudges that have accumulated inside your mind over the years.

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